Performing Arts Center Eastside Announces Distinguished Vision & Design Team

By: Oct. 24, 2019

Performing Arts Center Eastside (PACE) marks a milestone in its realization with the announcement of a distinguished vision and design team. Futurists, programmers, technicians, designers and architects from companies such as Microsoft, T-Mobile, Pfeiffer Partners, ARVR Academy, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and more have now partnered to create a first-of-its-kind new venue, with endlessly flexible immersive, digital and experiential components.

The vision and design team was concepted by PACE's new CEO Ray Cullom to encourage thought leadership, increased diversity and community involvement to launch forward the development timeline for the long-awaited center. Current members of the vision and design team include (in alphabetical order, by last name):

  • Grant Castle, vice president of engineering service and QA at T-Mobile. Castle has been with T-Mobile for more than 24 years and is responsible for overall network and service quality, which includes leading numerous technology teams focused on enhancing the customers' connected experience. He also oversees T-Mobile's technology showroom, TECH EXPERIENCE, that showcases wireless technology innovations like 5G, IoT and AR/VR.
  • Charles Duba, Ph.D. vice president of institutional advancement and strategic initiatives, DigiPen Institute of Technology. Dr. Duba's work is world-renowned in the areas of electronics and for the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory. His current research interests are in weak-interaction physics, physics instrumentation, physics simulation, augmented reality and hardware design.
  • Jim DuBois, former Microsoft CIO. DuBois directed IT modernization helping Microsoft transform in his more than 24 years at the tech giant and is now serving on boards for public, private and startup companies. He is also an author and regular speaker on his lessons learned at Microsoft.
  • Thomas A. Furness III, inventor, professor and virtual reality pioneer. Known as the "Grandfather of Virtual Reality," Furness is the founder of the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington, where he is currently a professor in the department of Industrial & Systems Engineering.
  • Alys Holden, Director of Production at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Holden holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama and has led multiple infrastructure projects for OSF and was a major part of the planning and designing of the renovation of the Mark Taper Forum in downtown Los Angeles. She is author of the acclaimed book "Structural Design for the Stage."
  • Jerome Hewlett is head of business development and vice president of operations for ISF Incubator where he satisfies his passion to build successful startups and strong partnerships in emerging tech hot spots. He's a leader in operations, technology and business development.
  • William Murray, FAIA, Principal at Pfeiffer Partners. Murray has spent his career working with acousticians and theater consultants in creating some of the most prominent performance facilities in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Michael Nassirian, founder and CEO of ARVR Academy. Nassarian is on the cutting-edge of disruptive solutions in AR, VR and Artificial Intelligence. He's dedicated to providing diversity and inclusion in immersive and emerging technologies.
  • Lisa Oratz, Senior Counsel Perkins Coie, LLP, has practiced law for over 30 years in the areas of technology, intellectual property and entertainment law. She frequently advises clients on emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and AR/VR, and on matters involving the intersection of technology and entertainment. She is also a Trustee at the Seattle Repertory Theater.
  • Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov, video game designer and inventor of Tetris. Along with his partners, Pajitnov founded The Tetris Company in 1996, after the game's initial success around the world in the 80's. He's a computer engineer by trade who studied applied mathematics at the Moscow Aviation Institute.
  • Mike Pell, Envisioneer at Microsoft Garage. Pell leads design and experimental projects for Microsoft's worldwide program for curiosity-fueled explorations and innovation.
  • Bambo Sofola, General Manager at XBOX Emerging Markets at Microsoft. Sofola has been an innovator in tech for more than 26 years, and is responsible for defining Microsoft's strategies for gaming, establishing partnerships with global entities and building gaming ecosystems in emerging markets.
  • Eric Stelter, principal at ESMB Inc. A fourth-generation Bellevue resident, Stelter, along with his family the Freemans, is a philanthropist and influential figure in the construction and growth of Bellevue.
  • Eric Vonderscheer, Senior Project Manager for GLY Construction. An expert in construction with LEED AP BD+C credentials, Vonderscheer has worked on the KDC Bellevue Collection projects and The Studio | Bellevue among others. He has 16 years of industry experience, and has been with the firm since 2013, overseeing a number of renovations throughout The Bellevue Collection, and the recently completed Lincoln Square South development.
  • Lawrence Yang, Designer at Valve. Yang works on SteamVR hardware and software for game developer Valve, makers of Half-Life. He recently took on a re-design of VR controllers and reimagination of how users interact with gaming hardware in Virtual Reality.

Led by PACE's new CEO Ray Cullom -- who himself boasts more than 25 years building or renovating performing arts facilities around the world -- this team of change-makers will develop, plan and build an entirely new kind of performing arts space. "Our (modest) goal is to build the most important new arts building in the world, and to create the model for design and construction for every subsequent performing arts venue development and construction project moving forward," stated Cullom.

The vision and design team held their first set of meetings in May and will continue to meet regularly in service of designing an endlessly flexible, digitally enabled and cutting-edge cultural hub.

"The live performance world is only just beginning to experiment with the incredible next generation of immersive technologies," Cullom continues. "The new virtual and digital tools available are inclusive and engaging, transforming the audience from passive witness to active participants, and our center will be among the first to showcase them."

Once open, PACE will be the world's first purpose-built 21st century performing arts center, leveraging the existing entrepreneurial spirit, unique energy and drive for innovation present in downtown Bellevue, WA. Anchored by a 2,000-seat performance hall embedded with the latest technology, the center will be a vibrant, creative multi-use space that also features a dedicated MakerSpace art incubator, to foster arts education.

For more information, visit


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